While tech companies work to keep their systems up and running, and adapt to massive increases in demand for their services amid the COVID-19 lockdowns, they've also been looking to help raise funds, and donate to relevant causes where they can.
And this week, Google has announced its latest contribution, committing a donation package valued at $800 million, which will be put to towards a range of charities and support initiatives to help lessen the impacts of the pandemic.
As explained by Google CEO Sundar Pichai:
"As the coronavirus outbreak continues to worsen around the world, it’s taking a devastating toll on lives and communities. To help address some of these challenges, today we’re announcing a new $800+ million commitment to support small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), health organizations and governments, and health workers on the frontline of this global pandemic."
Google's donations will go towards several key areas:
- $250 million in ad grants/credits will go to the World Health Organization and other health agencies to facilitate the expanded delivery of critical information on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is in addition to the $25 million in ad credits Google allocated to the WHO and government agencies earlier this month.
- $200 million will go towards a new support program for NGOs and financial institutions around the world, in order to provide additional assistance for SMBs.
- $340 million in Google Ads credits will be made available to all SMBs who've had an active Google Ads account over the past year. "Credit notifications will appear in their Google Ads accounts and can be used at any point until the end of 2020 across our advertising platforms". Something to keep an eye on in your Google Ads accounts - more info here.
- $20 million in Google Cloud credits for academic institutions and researchers to help them leverage Google's computing capabilities and infrastructure "as they study potential therapies and vaccines, track critical data, and identify new ways to combat COVID-19".
Google's also increasing its support systems to help facilitate the production of more protective equipment for medical workers, while it'll also increase its gift-matching support program for Google employees who donate to charities.
It's a significant commitment from the search giant, and it adds to the growing list of contributions from tech and social platforms.
Over the past two weeks, we've seen major COVID-19 donations and contributions from Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok and Twitter, equating to hundreds of millions of dollars cumulatively. Of course, many tech platforms are generating significant revenue - Google made $160 billion in revenue in 2019 - and that income is reliant on users, so it's good to see the platforms looking to give back, and support the audiences that support them. But they also don't have to donate anything - while some have criticized the level and/or make-up of such contributions, it's worth noting that none of these companies is under any obligation to contribute anything at all, if they don't want to.
Indeed, Google looks set to lose a significant chunk of ad dollars due to COVID-19, with soma analysts estimating that both Google and Facebook will lose around $44 billion in ad revenue collectively in 2020. Given this, they could be forgiven for being somewhat conservative with their donations, as they, like most businesses, will be hit hard. Sure, we're talking billions, so the scale is not comparable to smaller players, but still, that's the scale they operate on, and that will hurt their market standing and performance measures just the same.
But really, this is what we need. As you've no doubt seen quoted many times, around 1% of the world's richest people hold more wealth than the other 99%. Right now, where possible, we need to see some of that wealth re-distributed to people in need. The US is already facing record unemployment levels after less than a month of shutdowns, and that could be just the beginning. As we eventually seek to recover from the coronavirus outbreak, it will take a combined effort to keep people in homes, to keep people fed - or we risk losing modern society as we know it.
In this sense, it's good to see the big players in tech seeking to contribute, and help out with funding to support communities in need.